UPDATE: Renda was called upon to pinch hit in the eighth inning on Wednesday, and delivered a successful sacrifice bunt. He reached first via a throwing error.
"I'm so proud of Tony for getting to the Big Leagues," head coach David Esquer said in a statement. "He is the latest in a long line of Cal Bears in the Major Leagues. The whole Cal Baseball family is proud."
Renda, the 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year, was a 2012 second-round MLB Draft pick of the Washington Nationals, before he was traded to the New York Yankees on June 11, 2015, and then on Dec. 28, 2015, he was flipped to the Reds as part of the Aroldis Chapman deal. He joins a team skippered by former Bears pitcher Bryan Price.
Renda was considered one of the top prospects in the Nationals system when he headed to the Arizona Fall League in 2014, after advancing to High-A Potomac of the Carolina League, where he hit a then-career best .307. With the Mesa Solar Sox, Renda hit .200, with 19 strikeouts to three walks, and just four extra-base hits in 85 at-bats. Renda struggled at Double-A stops in Harrisburg and then Trenton in 2015, hitting .269. After starting the season at Double-A Pensacola hitting .326, Renda was promoted to Triple-A, and has hit .280 with the Louisville Bats. In his last 10 games, Renda has hit .359 with one home run, six runs and four RBIs.
In the month of July, Renda has hit .333, and when batting leadoff for the Bats this season (13 games), he's hit .346.
The emotional leader of the 2011 California baseball team that beat back elimination and rallied to Omaha, Renda endured the passing of his father, Frank, on July 18, 2010, from Stage V lung cancer. On Sept. 18 of that year, the entire team surprised Renda and his family by showing up in 'Team Frank' shirts at the Jog for Jill -- a cancer research fundraising event named for former Cal coxswain Jill Costello.
10 days later, the program -- along with three others -- was cut, while rugby was to be relegated to varsity-club status. Renda, in the course of three months, had seemingly lost everything, but it was his firm hand that helped steady the 2011 team.
“He’s mature beyond his years," Esquer said after the 2011 season. "He’s not afraid of anything or anyone. That’s kind of the personality that our team needed. We needed to be mature beyond our years, and we needed not be afraid of anyone."
Renda was a Freshman All-American for the Bears in 2010, hitting .373 with 13 stolen bases, 37 RBIs, 21 doubles and 55 runs. As a sophomore in 2011, Renda hit .332 with 44 RBIs, 14 doubles, three home runs, two triples, 38 runs and nine stolen bases, scoring the winning run in the final game of the Houston Regional, riding home on Devon Rodriguez's two-run single. Renda scored that run despite blowing a hamstring rounding third, and spent the rest of the postseason as the designated hitter.
As a junior in 2012, Renda earned All-American honors, hitting .342, with a career-high 29 walks to 18 strikeouts in 54 games, scoring a career-high 41 runs and hitting a career-high five home runs, while adding 16 doubles. He was also second in the Pac-12 in stolen bases, with 16. His 244 career hits are sixth on the school's all-time list, with the five other players having played four years, while he played three before being picked 80th overall by the Nationals.
Renda has hit .290 in four and a half minor league seasons, with 104 stolen bases, and 130 doubles. He follows pitcher Erik Johnson and double play partner Marcus Semien as Major Leaguers from that 2011 team. Both Semien and Johnson made their Major League debuts for the Chicago White Sox on on Sept. 4, 2013.
Another of Renda's 2011 teammates may not be far behind. Catcher Andrew Knapp, a Triple-A All-Star with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Philadelphia Phillies), is hitting .273 with seven home runs, 17 doubles and 37 RBIs this season, and has hit .314 over his last 10 games.
Semien -- who struck out with the bases loaded to bring up Rodriguez on that fateful night in Houston -- is having a career year for the Oakland Athletics, with 22 home runs and 50 RBIs -- already career highs -- in 105 games, and a career-high .972 fielding percentage (after a .947 mark in 2015). Semien is the eighth Cal baseball alumnus with a 20-home run year in the Major Leagues, following Sid Chapman, Allen Craig, Mike Epstein, Jackie Jensen, Jeff Kent, Kevin Maas and Xavier Nady.
Renda is the fifth Cal player to appear on a Major League roster in 2016. Mark Canha is on Oakland's 40-man roster but on the 60-day disabled list, while Johnson and Tyson Ross are also on the disabled list as members of the San Diego Padres. Seven more former Bears are on Triple-A rosters as of Tuesday's games and 23 Cal products are playing in the minor leagues.